How Does IV Sedation Dentistry Work?

by | Mar 18, 2021 | General Dentistry

Injecting a sedative into your body, like through a vein, may seem scary, but that’s not really something to be worried about. According to most studies, oral sedation in adult patients is relatively safe and effective in managing dental anxiety.

If you fear dental procedures or are resistant to local anesthetic, you might want to look at this option.


IV sedation dentistry


What is IV sedation dentistry?

Modern medicine and medical technologies try to ensure that patients are as comfortable as they can be during surgeries and diagnosis.

Sedation can be made orally using pills, nasal using nitrous oxide, or intravenous (IV) to a particular vein using anti-anxiety drugs.
Depending on the procedure, the dentist would choose a level of sedation.

  • Minimal sedation – Awake but feel relaxed; patients are expected to feel drowsy.
  • Deep sedation – This type of sedation will have a significant effect on the body. Patients most likely wouldn’t remember anything of the procedure.
  • Moderate sedation – Or the average dose. It is stronger than common sedatives but not as much as the deep ones.

Sometimes, moderate or deep sedation can lower the breathing rate, due to which patients may be given oxygen. However, any level of analgesia will not make them unconscious as it is done through local anesthesia.


How does it work?

IV sedation puts the body in a state of relaxation during diagnosis and procedures to reduce anxiety.

During a dental appointment, the dentist will inject a needle into the vein to allow the sedative to enter directly into the bloodstream. The IV may remain in the vein until the entire process is over, while it’s not necessary for some.
The doctor will monitor the pulse rate and oxygen rate after being put under sedation to ensure no bad reaction. Blood pressure is checked as well before and after the procedure.

Benzodiazepines are the most common drugs used for sedation, particularly midazolam and diazepam.
Sometimes pain medications like opioids are added to the IV separately. It depends on the health of the patient and the area to be worked on. These medications neutralize the targeted area to make it numb and minimize the pain. These are generally used for lengthy procedures or if the doctor feels that the pain will be unbearable.

Despite using so many drugs, IV sedations are safe for most patients.


When is IV sedation used?

Some patients have a phobia with needles, surgeons, dentists, or medical procedures in general, and IV sedation can be an excellent option for them.

How will it help when one can’t even bear the sight of a needle coming close? Most likely, they will not notice. The drugs will put their mind in a state that everything around them seems blissful.

Dentists and other medical professionals may also use it for minor surgeries and diagnoses where anesthesia is not required.
IV sedation is ideal for these situations because:

  • The patients will not be bothered by any activities around them or even their bodies.
  • Patients will still have the consciousness to respond to anything the dentist says.
  • Sedatives act quickly and can be adjusted according to the requirements.
  • It reduces any complications one may have, typically from gagging.
  • It is more potent than oral or nasal sedation, which is suitable for patients with fear and anxiety, although IV sedation dentistry cost is higher than the other types

American Academy of Periodontology has reported in a survey that District 5 of America, the south-central United States, has used the most significant (74.0%) of IV sedation. However, District 7, which includes New York and New Jersey, has the lowest (15.6%).

The report has shown that approximately half of periodontists prescribe IV sedation, while the recent graduates offer and personally administer the procedure for their patients.


Is IV sedation dentistry for everyone?

Any drug that you put in your body will have some effect or the other. Although most of the sedation’s effects are used in favor of the patient, the result may turn out ugly in some cases.

The following conditions are not suitable to have an IV sedation:

  • Pregnant
  • Intoxicated
  • Allergies to benzodiazepines
  • Undergoing a glaucoma treatment
  • CNS depression.

There are other medical conditions in which sedation is used cautiously. Some of these conditions are:

  • Liver, kidney, or lung problems
  • Psychosis
  • Sleep apnea, even if you are not being diagnosed for it
  • Minor age groups



Patients having dentophobia or dental anxieties can talk to their dentists and counselors to overcome their fear and stress. However, in some cases, mere motivation and kind words do not work.

We understand that nobody wants to put unnecessary drugs in their body, but if all the non-invasive approaches have been tried and failed, IV sedation is a good option.

There are no significant risks involved in any sedation, and the dentist will ensure that the patient’s health is suitable before undergoing an IV sedation.

Laguna Vista Dental ensures that its patients are comfortable as they can be at every appointment and procedure. Talk to us now or book an appointment online by clicking the link here.

Krystle Fenton

Krystle Fenton

Krystle Fenton is the owner and lead dentist at Laguna Vista Dental in Elk Grove, CA. Dr. She has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Andrews University. She then went on to Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, where she graduated with honors and is a member of the prestigious Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) National Dental Honor Society. Dr. Fenton is a member of the American Dental Association, California Dental Association, and Sacramento District Dental Society. In her time away from the office, Dr. Fenton enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, spending time outdoors and watching movies.

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